SHALIMAR – Starting in April, customers of Waste Management in unincorporated areas of Okaloosa County will be charged almost $6 more per month by the company to have it collect their trash, recyclables and yard waste.

Another major change on the way: the company’s existing 18-gallon recycling bins will be replaced with standard 96-gallon, wheeled carts. Customers who do not need such a large cart will have the option of using a 64-gallon wheeled cart instead.

At a special meeting Tuesday, the County Commission voted 3-2 to approve those changes while awarding a new, five-year contract to Waste Management instead of Inland Service of Florida. Of the two companies, Waste Management offered a slightly lower overall cost to customers.

Commissioner Graham Fountain and Commissioner Trey Goodwin cast the two “no” votes. The new contract takes effect April 1 and ends March 31, 2022.

Waste Management has been the county’s refuse hauler for roughly two decades and serves a franchise area that has about 32,500 residential customers. They currently pay $19.12 per month for "2-1-1" service, which consists of twice-a-week garbage pickups and once-a-week pickups of recyclables and yard debris.

The 2-1-1 service will remain in place for the new contract, but customers will be charged $24.77 per month, or $5.65 more than they do now. The monthly cost includes various county fees.

During the county staff’s most recent negotiations with Waste Management and Inland Service, Waste Management decreased its monthly proposed costs from its previously submitted prices, while Inland Service stuck with its previously proposed costs.

Waste Management’s two newest overall prices for the 2-1-1 service, using either the larger recycle carts or the existing smaller bins, were both less than 10 cents cheaper than Inland Service's prices.

After a majority of the commission awarded the new contract to Waste Management, an attorney representing Inland Service said it would file a formal protest. The attorney contended that Waste Management officials were able to see Inland Service’s proposed costs during the latest round of contract negotiations.

Immediately following Tuesday’s meeting, county Public Works Director Jason Autrey said neither company was able to see the other’s proposed costs.

In a meeting memo to the commission, county Purchasing Director Greg Kisela said Waste Management had submitted its revised, lower prices with the stipulation that the county eliminate its 180-day termination for convenience clause and agree to an initial five-year contract.

The clause would have allowed the county to terminate the new contract without giving a reason. Goodwin said even if the county never needed to use the clause, it was important to have it in the new agreement.

The county also had initially leaned toward a 10-year contract without the ability of the trash hauler to reopen negotiations at the five-year mark. Besides calling for an initial five-year contract, the new agreement approved Tuesday includes the possibility of three additional five-year terms.